Wednesday, December 27, 2006

I Gave My Life Today

I was looking through my Blogger blog at some old posts and found this one. I originally posted this on November 9, 2005, after giving blood earlier that day.

I've donated many times before, willingly and happily. I've never had any complications arise nor have I ever felt any ill effects (except once when I didn't eat beforehand and thus felt quite light-headed afterwards - my fault, not theirs), so when Mom told me she had signed me up to give blood (knowing I wouldn't mind) I was all for it.

We had a 1:30 appointment today and we arrived just in time. After going first to the bloodmobile (where they told us we had to "register" before we came there), we went into the office building and waited for about 30 minutes. Mom got to go, and I sat in a room full of people I didn't know. Not a good situation for me, but fortunately I had a book to escape to.

Finally, after another 15 minutes (or more), I was called to the "bus." Wouldn't you know it? I had to wait some more. Not so long this time, only about 5 minutes. Then I had to in for their little interview they do. Not a big deal, normally. Well, today my blood didn't drop. What I mean is, when the man took a blood sample from my pricked finger (yeee-owch! I can handle the big needle with no problem, but not the little ones for some reason), he put it in a special liquid. If the blood drops to the bottom of the liquid, then there is enough iron in the blood. As I said, my blood didn't drop. It just hung out there at the top. I sat there thinking that I wouldn't be able to give blood because I didn't have enough iron!

He decided to spin the blood and based on that we would continue. Apparently, you need a 32 count of something to be safe, and after he spun my blood, I had a 43. So I was safe there. Don't ask me what the numbers mean.

So next came the questions. Before, I've always done them on my own, then the interviewer would either go over them with me or just check to make sure that I had answered them all. They've cut out the first step. Now, they just ask them. I told the guy straight off the bat that the answers to all the sex questions were "no." He said okay, but he still had to ask them. I guess he's required by law or something. Whatever. The answers were still "no."

We finished and I went out to the main area where the lady (we'll call her a nurse for lack of a better term) awaited me. After all the preliminary stuff, she began to prep my arm. She had no problem finding my vein (I have good veins) to mark it. She then went to help another person who was finishing his pint. She came back to me and when she was ready, she stuck the needle in my arm - and missed my vein. She missed! Come on, people! I have good veins. No one has ever missed my vein. I shudder to think of it even now.

Anyway, she half pulled the needle out, re-found my vein, and pushed the needle in. The sensation I felt was something I had never felt before and never want to again. It wasn't painful so much as it felt like an invasion. It rippled through my entire body and back to the entry point in less than a second, but it felt longer. I opened my mouth, but no sound came out. The nurse noticed and apologized profusely. I could tell she really felt bad, so I didn't have the heart to make a big deal about it.

The whole pint took 5 minutes. The clock was right in front of me, so that's how I know. All of that waiting and hassle for 5 minutes.

So now you ask me, why do I do this? Well, in Leviticus, it says that "the life of the flesh is in the blood." (Lev. 17:11). In John, Christ said, "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friend." (John 15:13). So it's a bit literal when you look at it this way, but I do believe it's Biblical. After all, Christ also said, "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you." (John 15:12). Christ gave His blood for us that we might live. Knowing that, how can I not donate my little pint every 56 days if it might mean saving someone's life?

(All Scripture references from the New King James Version.)

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Each of Us has been Given a Gift

This past week I have watched a lot of movies. In our family, we have a general policy to not watch movies except on the weekend, but these past two weeks we've been lax. Of course, it doesn't help that NetFlix has such a quick turnaround. Or that my not-so-little-anymore brother, who is home for Christmas, has chosen the next 20 or so movies to come. Or that there are movies in the theater that we really want to see - like Eragon.

But all these movies go by the wayside if they have no purpose than to entertain. There seems to be a trend lately for movies to tell more than a story that makes you laugh, cry, or sigh - docudramas, if you will. They want to tell you what happened in an historical sense, whether from personal accounts or known historical facts. Take Bobby, for instance. I haven't seen this one, but I saw an article in The Oregonian that the filmmakers for Bobby have taken their actors and have spliced them into actual footage from when Bobby Kennedy made his speech.

I like these kinds of movies, mostly because they bring history to life in a way. I've always loved history. I remember standing in the fort at Fort Larned in Kansas and placing my hand over a signature that a soldier had carved in the sandstone building back in 1863. I still get chills over that. When I was in college, I actually debated whether or not I should major in history. I didn't, but that doesn't matter right now.

I especially like films that have certain spiritual undertones to them. A few years ago, there was a film that took the world by storm. You've probably seen it - The Passion of the Christ. This movie focused on one event in the life of Christ - His death. This year we have another film that does the same thing. The Nativity Story is the story of His birth. My family and I went to see it this last Saturday, and I was very moved by it.

There was one scene that struck me in particular, one that really made me think and made me ask myself several questions. Mary and Joseph were invited by a lone shepherd to take a rest from their journey to Bethlehem. Mary's pregnancy was quite obvious by now, and the shepherd told her that she bore a gift. He had no idea of the significance of his comment, but continued by saying that his father had told that each person had been given a gift. When asked what his was, at first, he said nothing, and then he said that his gift was hope. Hope of that which is to come.

I recognize that this scene is a fictional account because we don't have anything to tell us who Mary and Joseph saw on the road or where they stopped or anything like that. But I still feel the power of that statement. When this same shepherd came to see the newborn Christ, Mary looked at him and said, "Each one of us has been given a gift."

Each one of us has been given a gift. God gave a village girl the gift of life. He gave a man in Portland, Oregon, the gift of telling her story. Somewhere, God has given someone the gift of using her story to bring another to Christ. What gift has He given you?

Monday, December 11, 2006

When Bees Attack

My brother saved my life last night. Big, brave, strong Thomas who thinks that being afraid of wasps is a silly thing. It's really not, but who's thinking about such things when your life is in danger?

Ok, ok, my life may not have been in danger, but I really am afraid of wasps and bees, and all other related insects. Why? Because I've been stung before. Yes, indeedy. It's no picnic, let me tell ya.

The first time I was ever stung, I was about 13 years old and I had just finished mopping the kitchen floor. It was our habit to just toss the dirty water over the side of our deck onto the bark. Well, that day was a nice, sunny day. It was mid-summer, and I was anticipating going to the county fair that night. We lived in a sleepy little town in southeast Kansas, so the county fair was a big thing. A very big thing.

Anyway, I banged my way through our back door with the mop and bucket of dirty water to the side of our deck. I blissfully squeezed the excess water out of the mop, and blithely tossed the buckets contents over the side. I turned to set the bucket down, and when I straightened up, I screamed. Yes, it was loud and it carried throughout the whole neighborhood, as I found out later to my chagrin.

So why did I scream? You know those big black and yellow bumblebees that fly in lazy circles around your flower garden? They look harmless, and even kind of cute at times. Well, the one I met on this occasion was not cute. In fact, he was mad! I'm talking kamikaze-mad, and he was preparing to dive-bomb my face!

Apparently, he had been minding his own business, gathering pollen to take back to his hive, when he was suddenly drenched from antenna to stinger with dirty, soapy, stinky water. Now, looking at it from his point of view, you can probably understand why he'd be angry. I mean, he was probably going to go to the fair that night, too, and he wanted to look his best. Yeah, okay, maybe not, but no one really likes to get wet when they aren't expecting it.

So here is this angry bumblebee heading straight for me. I scream and flap my arms around, trying to get him away from me, but he was determined. Next thing I know, this incredible pain exploded into my brain. The source? The end of my nose. He had found the most embarrassing place to sting me!

By that time, my mother was there and trying to get me into the house while at the same time trying to keep my 3-year-old brother (yes, the aforementioned Thomas) inside away from the killer bee.

Suddenly, I felt more pain in my side. The little bugger had somehow ended up inside my shirt and stung me on my side - twice! I yelled this time, and my mother tried to rip my shirt off of me to get the bee out. Well, I didn't want anyone to see me without my shirt, so I tried to keep it on. In the meantime, the bee got out and stung my mother on her hand, and she flung him outside. I calmed down as soon as the door was shut, but that event traumatized me for the rest of my life. I can still see the big, black puff buzzing straight for me. *shudder*

The second time I was stung was not nearly so dramatic. I was much older by this time (about 24 years old) and I was working at the gift shop/concession stand at Shoshone Falls in Twin Falls, Idaho. Somewhere nearby, there was a yellow jacket nest, and they absolutely loved to some into the concession stand and eat up anything sugary. If I had a soda from the fountain, I even had to cover the end of the straw, because the yellow jackets would crawl down the straw to the soda! We ended up putting Skittles in a cardboard tray with a little water on them to keep them occupied, though that didn't always work.

By that time, I had gotten over my fear (I thought, anyway), and I was able to tolerate them somewhat. Then one day, I felt something on the back of my arm, and thinking it was a fly, I brushed it off. Bad idea. A sharpness pierced through my consciousness and I gasped aloud. The customer I was helping showed a bit of concern when I explained what happened, but I tried to downplay it.

A few days later, the exact same thing happened. So at that point I had two yellow jacket stings - one on top of the other. By the next morning, the whole back of my arm was swollen and itched terribly. I had hives. My roommate, who was susceptible to allergies, gave me some ointment to cut down on the itch and another friend gave me some Benedryl pills, which knocked me out so thoroughly that I was late to work the next morning at a different job. Fortunately, when my boss found out what happened, he was very understanding.

When I got to the gift shop that afternoon, my boss from there was working. She told me that another girl who worked there had been stung on her tongue! She had been eating a sucker and didn't realize that she was sharing it when she put it in her mouth. I was definitely glad that hadn't happened to me.

Ever since then, I have been extremely wary of insects of that nature. When I saw the wasp just inside the window last night, I didn't want to take any chances. Fortunately, my brother took pity on me, and he killed that big, mean, wasp. Brave boy!